We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Two issues seem to have the Repub base madder than hornets: Immigration and Spending. Of course, cutting spending is about as easy as taking a lollipop out of a kid's mouth, but if conservatives are the party of a smaller federal government, what's the problem? From a piece by Rauch:
The answer has to do with a critical shift in the Republicans' governing strategy, dating to the late 1990s. From 1981 through 1998, Republican reformers' thinking was dominated by Dave Stockman (President Reagan's first budget director) and Newt Gingrich (the reform-minded House speaker of 1995 to '98). Both were movement politicians who believed that, by cutting spending, Republicans could build prosperity, tame Big Government, and win majority status.
The trouble was that budget cuts brought short-term political backlashes that kept interrupting the program. Burned by President Clinton in 1995-96 and then spanked by voters in 1998, Republicans decided to reverse the sequence. First they would build a political machine; then, once safely entrenched, they would reform Social Security and Medicare, shrink government, and so on. The new course was set by DeLay and Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist -- both machine-builders par excellence.
And so, under DeLay and Bush, the Republicans spent generously, even profusely, to build their base. The number of budgetary earmarks increased from 2,100 in 1998 to 14,000 in 2005, according to Citizens Against Government Waste. To disarm the Democrats, the Republicans gave up on reducing entitlement spending and instead dramatically increased it, notably with an expensive new prescription drug program. (According to Richard Kogan, a senior fellow with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the Republicans have added $540 billion to entitlement costs over the 2001-to-2011 period.) They cut taxes and spent heavily on the Iraq war and defense. (Real spending on defense and security has risen by more than 7 percent a year since 2001, Kogan says.)
When, last year, DeLay blurted out that the budget had no fat left, he meant that it had no political fat, and he was right. Every dollar now served a constituent group in DeLay's carefully built machine. Phase one had worked. In 2005, with Bush safely re-elected and their congressional majorities cemented, Republicans launched phase two: a reform effort aimed at Social Security.
Then came a shock. Social Security reform collapsed and spending proved all but intractable, both for the same reason: Large-scale reform needs a popular majority, not just a parliamentary one, and Republicans constitute only a third of the country. In building their machine, the Republicans had made Democrats hostile and independents suspicious, and the support that remained was far from enough.
Bush is no Reagan, nor did he ever have the kind of mandate for change that Reagan enjoyed. After all, Clinton did hold to - or was held to -meaningful fiscal discipline, which is part of why he was popular among financial types. Read entire.